The Work-Life Balance

The work and family balance is usually a blog entry geared toward women, but the work-family time situation affects dads as well. I have four children and started with my first at the ripe young age of 20. My wife and I graduated college with bachelor degrees in our respective fields. We also did this while working. Yet, we still made time for each other and our families. Granted, we had major support from family members, but we still accomplished our goals and raised a family.

We have been blessed enough that my wife does not have to work and can stay at home and take care of the kids as well as her grandmother that lives down the street. When I say take care of her grandmother, I really mean that they hang out like best friends. They go shopping, eating, and pretty much do everything together. I think that this is a net gain for both of them.

I say all of this to say that when I get home from work, it’s dad time with the kids. Mom has had a full day with them (whether that be a positive or negative adventure) and they are all ready to see a new face by the afternoon.

This is fantastic and difficult at the same time. I love my kids and cannot wait to step into my house to the yelling of, “DADDY HOME!!” It is a highlight of my day and I know that someday I will miss that experience seeing as my eight year old could care less if I was around as long as she got to watch Netflix and Minecraft.

After the warm greetings is where the trouble starts. There are not too many hours left in the day and they have to be as planned out as the hours while I’m in my office. If we sit around and wait to go do what we need to do, we end up being late which throws the rest of the afternoon off. As of now, our eight year old is the only one who has after school events. We are already dipping into the grandparent bucket of help to get her to her events on time.

My 5 Thoughts on a Good Work-Life Balance

  1. Set time aside for yourself. Every morning I wake up at 6 am. Yes, even on the weekends. During the summer, I used this time to go for a weekend run or hike. Throughout the week, I used the gym at work to get my blood moving before I get started with the 9 to 5. Now that I take the kids to school and it is cold outside, I use that time to read. It isn’t helping my body any and I can definitely feel a difference from not burning the AM calories. But, I still take time out of my day to do something that I want to do.
  2. Set time aside for each and every kid. I have found that this is the hardest task that I try to accomplish every day. I take the time to talk to them individually. Talking to a two year old about how their day was or what they are playing with or what did they just eat or why are they making such a mess.
  3. Separate work from home. When I am at work, I am thinking about work. I am not thinking about what is going to happen this afternoon or what happened last night. I have taught myself to have a one track mind, which is a benefit and a hindrance. I can tune people, sounds, images, thoughts, you name it out of my mind and focus on a task at hand. The trouble with this is that once I do get focused on a project, nothing else is entering my mind, including thoughts or tasks that need to.
  4. Separate home from work. When I am at home, I am thinking about home life. I am not thinking about what happened that day or what I need to do the next day. Before I leave work, I plan the next day and clear it from my mind until the next morning. I set my alarm for the next morning earlier if needed and set my reminders.
  5. Write down every task and event. I started using Todoist this year after I forgot a major event at work. I simply didn’t show up for it and completely forgot about it. From that point on, I knew I had to do something and that something was getting organized and writing down every task and every event. If there is something to do — it goes down in Todoist as a task. If there is a place to be or someone to meet — it goes down on the calendar as an event (which also syncs with Todoist). I always have what and when I need to do something at the ready.

Use some of what I do and mesh it with what works for you. That is what I have found to be most beneficial to me. I may read a post from someone and like a certain idea that they do but hate another. Simply steal that idea and bring it into your own routine.